The MERLIN FE-SEM overcomes the conflict between image resolution and analytical capability. The core of MERLIN is the enhanced GEMINI II column which, with its double condenser system, achieves an image resolution of 0.8 nanometers. A sample current of up to 300 nanoamperes is available for analytical purposes such as energy and wavelength dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS and WDS), diffraction analysis of backscattered electrons (EBSD) or the generation of cathodoluminescence.
The system supports the user with a wide range of detailed solutions for tasks that could not be adequately performed in the past. The foundation for this achievement has been laid by the Carl Zeiss "Complete Detection System". This consists of the in-lens SE detector for surface imaging, the in-lens EsB detector for material contrast and the AsB detector for widely dispersed backscattered electrons. The latter contain specific information on the crystal orientation of the sample.
The unique charge compensation system of MERLIN also allows the high-resolution imaging of non-conductive samples. Electrons which accumulate on the surface of the sample are swept away by a fine jet of nitrogen. In doing so, the complete detection system of MERLIN can be used. An additional feature of the system for charge compensation is a channel for pure oxygen enabling in-situ sample cleaning. Within the vacuum chamber frequently occurring carbon deposits are removed from the sample surface, thus producing a significantly crisper and contrasty image. Both options allow the user to concentrate on the imaging and analysis of the sample instead of investing time and money in sample preparation.
MERLIN's new electronic system permits a flexible instrument configuration. Additional detectors can be retrofitted quickly, allowing the user to adapt the system to growing requirements. In addition, this flexibility makes the investment more future-proof and enables the user to benefit over the long term from ongoing detector development.